the wrath of God was satisfied?

Posted on May 3, 2013 by Bosco Peters106 Comments

The wrath of God

UPDATED thrice and now with a related post: God’s wrath – satisfied?

At our recent synod meeting, one of the songs was Stuart Townend and Keith Getty’s In Christ alone with the words:

“Till on that cross as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied”

Those words as understood by many (if not most) in that room are heresy. The understanding of those words by many (most) who enthusiastically sing this in services around the planet is heretical.

The understanding is that God (The Father) was angry at us in our sinfulness. And that God took out this rage on Christ instead of on us. And that this now enables God (The Father) to love us.

This understanding is heresy.

Our diocesan synodical singing of these words comes on the heels of a diocesan-wide study through Lent of a booklet The Praying Life, written by two of the top and most influential theologians in our diocese, Peter Carrell and Lynda Patterson. In this they wrote:

‘This cup’ particularly points to the cross as the place on which the wrath of God against sin was borne by Jesus as the final and full sacrifice for the sin of the world.

And Peter reinforces Lynda’s and his point on his blog:

If Jesus were not raised then we would not know whether God’s wrath was satisfied. That Jesus was raised demonstrated that God’s wrath was satisfied. The cup had been drained by Jesus.

The wrath-of-God-satisfied approach has been canonised as our diocesan soteriology (understanding of how we are saved).

Let me stress I am not saying Lynda and Peter are heretics. I am not taking (what is here called) a “Title D” process against them. Theologians have minds wired so that words for them can mean something quite different to what they appear to mean to the rest (majority) of us.

So here I am dealing with the God-has-anger-management-issues, straightforward understanding of “on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied”.

It is not in the Bible. Show me anywhere in the Bible that explicitly states Jesus’ death satisfies God’s wrath.

God is not divided. There is not some sort of internal battle within God – of His wrath versus His love.

Does God need Jesus’ death in order to love us?


God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” “God loved us and sent his Son.”

Whenever a community is required to sing In Christ alone it needs to be accompanied by teaching that what it seems to say, and what many people think it means, is heresy.

Please go and vote what you think the words of the hymn, and similar words mean.


We have agreements in place not to use uninclusive language. This song could have been put to one side because of that (“no scheme of man”). Other songs and hymns have their language altered. Altering songs and hymns without permission of the copyright holder is another discussion altogether. Some people choose to change the heretical tendency of this song to,

Till on that cross as Jesus died, The love of God was magnified


We have an incredibly lengthy, complex process for agreeing what words we will say. And none whatsoever for what words we will sing. Other churches have an agreed list of hymns and songs. We do not. If you want to express new or different ideas – sing them. Of interest to me is that it is what we sing that goes in much deeper than what is said. That too is another discussion altogether.


Thankfully, we are saved by God through Jesus Christ our saviour. We are not saved by a theory of salvation.


My friend and fellow blogger Peter Carrell has himself produced four posts on The wrath of God was satisfied.

UPDATE: Peter has now written a blog post in response to this post. It is (unsurprising to me) an orthodox exposition of the lines. If this is how all who sing these lines understand them, then this post has been a waste of time and hot air nonsense. However, the comments below, and here indicate that the interpretation I think many have, in fact is the interpretation that is held. Peter asks for an interpretation of “cup” in Luke 22:42. I quickly reach to the first commentary at hand:

cup is a reference to Jesus’ destiny as described in this Gospel: he will die in Jerusalem because God has sent him to do kingdom ministry for the needy, oppressed, and unfortunate of this world (see 4:43; 9:51; 13:13). Jesus will continue to drink of that cup as he heals a servant (22:51), forgives his enemies (22:34), and promises a place in paradise to a repentant evildoer (23:39-43).


UPDATE #2 & 3 (May 4&5): Peter has this morning written a second post connected to this one.

I was taken by David Earle’s comment on facebook, particularly as many who would advocate singing “Till on that cross as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied” would argue for worship that is immediately accessible to new people:

there is a really important point at the start of Bosco’s post which has got lost in the argument – that the words of songs should be read to mean what they mean in plain English to the person who has just walked in the door and should not require a course in NT theology to explain their deep and hidden meanings.

I also want to stress again his point “that God is beyond our human understanding”.

Others have also joined in the blogging: Mark Harris The Wrath of God (WOG), and a New Zealand theological debate. Laura Sykes “The Wrath Of God Was Satisfied?”: The Revd Bosco Peters June Butler “THE WRATH OF GOD WAS SATISFIED?” David Ould So much anger over the Wrath of God David Ould on Stand Firm So Much Anger Over the Wrath of God

4 thoughts on “the wrath of God was satisfied?

  1. Greg, way to go! Satisfy God’s wrath? Wrath = Passion – same word in the Greek. What is God’s Passion? MERCY! Why did combine all in disobedience? So he could have MERCY to ALL. God’s heart is MERCY-FULL.

    His ANGER is against those who deny or prevent His Mercies to others – the goats.

    Now I am going to share a couple of Revs, both of which are incredibly vital.

    God came in the flesh and was crucified, sacrificed by His own people – the Pharisees sacrificed Jesus to their own god – to themselves. They presumed they did “god” a service, and they did, as they themselves were gods – Jesus said so and it really ticked them off, just like about everything He said, and still says, really winds up Pharisees.

    God in Christ Jesus submitted to Man – to be subject to the sin of Man, which is the SIN OF THE WORLD – that is, to be as gods, knowing (judging) both the good and the evil. This is how He came to become AS Sin – He was not made SIN in the sense that we would understand it normally, but he was REJECTED OF ALL – SEPARATED from His own people who did not recognize Him.

    Where on earth does anyone get the idea that the Almighty God, Creator of the Universe of Universes, can be “satisfied” by sacrifice when it is OBEDIENCE HE IS ALL ABOUT which is the lesson He was wishing to convey to we humans by and in becoming OBEDIENT TO DEATH, even death on a tree – as a criminal?

    Oops, I had better watch I don’t start getting passionate again – it got Jesus in to a world of trouble!

    Here is a beauty for you. What was the sin of Loyola and how does it figure in the end time delusion? I believe that it was also the same thing which gave rise to St Francis is a Sissy, pious poster boy for poverty, and many of the other mystics who forsook living in their communities for a cloistered existence.

    Their error? They wanted to be ONE WITH GOD. And so did the devil (aka Lucifer) – and this is the condemnation of the devil, thinking you are special and should have God all to yourself – although with Loyola being Jewish as well as the other 6 in his crew, it was probably also a Satanic Sanhedrin conceived deception – like that ridiculous rapture doctrine and Sola Scriptura (aka God in a Box or Book).

    You see we are not enjoined to be come One with God, but to be made COMPLETE IN CHRIST, so to become as ONE NEW MAN, to be made complete, Spirit, Soul and Body (of Christ).

    The concept of pushing into God was graphically illustrated to me by the Holy Spirit as being a form of spiritual rape. He is to enter us as is only right with an holy Husband.

    I used to proclaim being made One with God, just as I used to proclaim that we were to love and to forgive ourselves. What a turn-key turkey. I was my own jailer. There is so much that we pick up along the way which sounds like it is so, but it is just someone’s castings, or vomit, like this hymn you allude to Greg.

    But the point is and the lesson to us is that we should allow God free reign to audit our books – to root out all the rubbish and set us free to serve Him instead of some silly idea of who and what He is. And when you see folk taken in some foolishness, restore them meekly, considering yourself…lest you be so tempted to follow your own leading or that of blind guides.

    God is complete, entire and lacks nothing. He wants to share Himself so he put a ‘share’ of heaven in you, some holy Scrip, a deposit of Himself, His Spirit, His Life, in the midst of the Garden.

    He invested Himself in flesh, you are, if you have not worked it out, the Word made flesh – where else could you have come from? You are not some biological coincidence He has elected to “save”. You were saved from before the foundations of the worlds, for God’s sake!!! You were ordained in Christ, before the foundations of the world!

    Oops, there I go again, getting all passionate about the Mercies of God…

    Now where is that champion of the Cross, with his delete button…

  2. And the moral is …

    Repression of feelings of anger, wrath and rage can lead to self-harm behaviours

  3. Bones, the one thing you have said here that really struck a chord and has been logged is “God did not die to make God happy” – that is a gem, mind if I mount it in my ephod?

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